Saturday, August 11, 2018

My Best Shot

By fluke, I happened to land temporarily on the radar of a Never-Trump conservative with centrist tendencies who's likely to play an important part in whatever happens post-Trump - whether a third party, a fresh coalition, or a reformation of the GOP. If you find yourself with a brief window of attention from a person like that - knowing they'll actually read an email or two, so long as you keep it brief and don't sling the usual crap - how would you use that opportunity?

(On a similar tack, I once wrote about how I'd use such an opportunity with Trump - and how it might probably look pretty bad from a distant perspective.)

Here's what I sent. I don't imagine for a second that he'll proclaim that, having finally heard The Truth, he's prepared to go forward and enact my lofty vision. But I know he generally agrees, so if just one granule of my perspective lodges and later helps in some miniscule way, I'd be thrilled. So here's me giving it my best shot:

I wrote:
Your brand of conservatism was never truly right wing. Strip the tribalism, the rote anti-liberalism, and a handful of wedge issues, and it’s pure American centrism, eminently acceptable to moderates on the Left.

With Right extremism inevitably provoking reciprocal Left extremism, there's an obvious opportunity for centrist coalition. The secret sauce would be explicit agreement to unclench cultural baggage (i.e. tribalism, rote anti-ism, and wedge issues). That’s how successful coalitions - in any setting - always proceed. I see you intuitively taking these conciliatory steps yourself.

Re: wedge issues, it'd be a viable compromise to simply freeze federal gun/abortion/etc. regulation as-is for a couple cycles. I.e. “table” the hot buttons….and temper the neocon hawkishness via a firm commitment to the Powell Doctrine.

If pulled off to its full potential, sparing us the customary ping-ponging aftermath, it'd be a momentous human precedent, breaking an ancient cycle and vanquishing what in retrospect will be remembered as nothing more than the un-self-aware assholes’ pathetic last gasp. I’d do anything to support it.
He replied:
You're exactly right on the centrism. I've always believed that the political homeostasis of a series of generally center right/center left adminstrations was a positive feature, not a bug
I replied:
>>>>the political homeostasis of a series of generally center right/center left adminstrations was a positive feature, not a bug

Yes, but the downside of the gloriously tight American rubber band is that huge swings (e.g. Obama to Trump to a Harris or Sanders) could snap it.

Rarely (never?) in history has a chain reaction of reciprocal extremism been quelled by an active intervention of moderation. If we can pull it off, it would transform all this into something beautiful; marking the death throes of an obsolete way of being. The JC/MLK/Gandhi decency judo perpetrated for the first time sans messianic catalyst.

Most centrists have no freaking idea they’re centrists. Show me a centrist, and I’ll show you a non-zealot who’s grown self-aware, nothing more. As you well know, partisanship's mere tribal identification; few ever really buy the doctrine. That fact has, alas, worked in Trump’s favor, turning nominal “conservatives" 180°, but could just as easily go the other way. Actually, the other way’s easier. It’s the default. Inciting moderates into extremism is aberrational (and, as you say, it cannot endure without Trump himself).

I think a Centrist outcome is comparatively easy. Just ensure conciliation (of cross-tribal moderates) has greater attraction than the reciprocation (of escalating anti-ism). Recognition of this implicit ease is essential for structuring the correct messaging, IMO. The magnetism’s actually all lined up, even if the situation appears like the stark opposite. The Taoists had it right!

While many of us might prefer to see a new third party or fresh coalition rather than a reformed GOP, I think that's wrong. A third party would just split the anti-MAGA vote, carving two sane minorities out of a large sane majority and giving the crazies a perennial crack at running things.

The best way to confine the MAGAs to their minority status is via isolation. And that's likely easiest to achieve via reformulation of a sane GOP (once Trump's gone, and erstwhile right-wing moderates have recovered a bit). Happily, the MAGAs would readily agree to it. They'd be downright eager to exist as a tight bundle under some defiant, roguish banner...unlikely to win another national election.

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